4 reasons Arvin Ahmadi’s How It All Blew Up is an important YA read for 2020

How It All Blew Up is one of the most important YA books you'll read this year.

This post is sponsored by Bonnier.

For the past month, we’ve been exploring everything behind Arvin Ahmadi’s ‘How It All Blew Up‘. The story follows Amir Azadi, a Muslim-American teen coming to terms with his sexuality. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, why not? We’re about to run down 4 reasons it’s one of the most important YA reads for 2020.

Exploring your sexuality

How It All Blew Up‘ follows Amir Azadi, who runs away to Italy after being blackmailed at school to come out as gay. Once in Italy, we see Amir make friends and start to explore his sexuality without feeling the pressure of society and his peers. It’s not all smooth sailing with friend-group ‘politics’ and a few hiccups along the way – but that’s what makes this book so relatable.


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It’s time for my stop on @pridebooktours tour of how it all blew up by @arvinahmadi! Huge thanks to @hotkeybooksya for sending me a copy to review. • • Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right? Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a U.S. Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom. At turns uplifting and devastating, How It All Blew Up is Arvin Ahmadi’s most powerful novel yet, a celebration of how life’s most painful moments can live alongside the riotous, life-changing joys of discovering who you are. • • My Review: This book was an interesting read but felt like there was so much more it could have given us. For one, it’s labelled as a Muslim LGBTQ book however we don’t see much of how Amir’s sexuality affects his family’s religion or him coming out. I would have loved more focus on the religious side and how this impacted Amir and his family. Amir was a great main character and I loved watching how he grew into himself and became his own person. Ahmadi really fleshed our Amirs feelings and I loved the style of writing, with the flashbacks and interactions, however it felt like it needed to be expanded on. I wanted more from his school life and his interactions with his family. It felt like these parts of Amor’s life were touched on but needed to filled out. I wanted more of his sister as she was amazing! Despite this I really did enjoy it and loved reading about Amir and his own personal journey. It’s definitely filled with drama and adventure! • • #averybookispost #bookpile #bookreader #bookstagramuk #bookphoto #amreading #whatimreading #instareads #readinglife #readmorebooks #igreads #bookstoread #bookishlife #bookstagramfeature #autumnlove #booklove #bookblogger #bookaccount #howitallblewup #hotkeysbooks #flowersandbooks

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Facing fears

Arvin does an amazing job of touching on issues that queer people go through. The fear of being judged by family. The fear of never being loved again. The fear of rejection. The fear of change. The fear of being open with the LGBTQIA+ community itself. All of this goes through the main character’s head as his lives his adventure in Rome.

Creating new friends

When Amir lands in Rome, he has to start from scratch. We’re talking finding a new place to stay, learning the language and making new friends. After plucking up the courage to speak to a handsome sales assistant at a bookstore, Amir heads to a local bar where he meets Jahan. After instantly clicking and bonding with Jahan over their Iranian heritage, Amir is introduced to a new friendship group. One where he feels comfortable to explore his sexuality and discover the amazing surroundings in a new setting.


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How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi Review – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ … Synopsis 18 year old Amir always knew coming out to his Muslin family would be messy, he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right? Soon, late nights with his new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature…until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now Amir has to tell the truth to a US Customs officer and his family, or risk losing who he truly is … This YA novel is so heartwarming and witty, and I really enjoyed it. The story is told by Amir, interspersed pages from his family as they are questioned at the airport. Amir is a great narrator, as he takes readers through his escape to Rome and the friends he makes there. The narration is warm and funny, and so easy to read. Amir is scared and inexperienced and unsure during this story as he tries to come to terms with being both gay and Muslim, but as the story progresses he starts to find acceptance in himself. I really loved his character throughout … I also liked the majority of supporting characters, most of them older, gay men who Amir meets in Rome, who show him love and acceptance from the beginning, and allow Amir to experience what life could be for him. There are some romantic elements, but these weren’t the focus of this story, instead it was Amir’s journey to being able to accept himself and face his family … The author highlights themes of homophobia, racism, and Islamaphobia specifically, in this novel, which are told sensitively and authentically, and obviously come from personal experiences … This is a story of learning to live a life free from fear of being who you are, of reconciling the different parts of yourself, and how running away from your problems doesn’t make them disappear, but taking yourself out of a bad situation is ok too. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it … Thank you to @readersfirst, @hotkeybooksya for this copy … #Books #Bookstagram #BookReview #HowItAllBlewUp #ArvinAhmadi #ReadersFirst #RecommendedReading #YANovel

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Once Amir cemented his relationships in the story, it was amazing to see the character open up and try new things.

Loving who you are

How It All Blew Up‘ is a story about not feeling free to be yourself until you have a unique chance to explore your sexuality and have new experiences without fear. Throughout the book, we learn to understand just how scared Amir is of his parents finding out about his sexuality and not accepting him for who he is. Spoiler alert: They still love him, and they’re proud to call him their son.

It’s so refreshing to see Amir’s character grow within the story, as we turn each page we see Amir learning to love who he is, finding his true passions in life, exploring a new city as well as new cultures and stopping being so scared of what other people think.

In a year that’s been somewhat turbulent, ‘How It All Blew Up’ is a welcome distraction from the state of the world. Lose yourself among Travestere, start working on your Italian and fall in love with this story by Arvin Ahmadi.

‘How It All Blew Up’ is available to buy now, here.

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